Last night’s Media Watch ran a story which suggested the Immigration Department had used its working relationship with Channel Seven’s Border Security as leverage for an apology to its National Communications Manager, Sandi Logan (pictured), be aired on Today Tonight.
The episode followed a story on TT about a man suspected of committing crimes against humanity in East Timor by reporter James Thomas.
Footage of Logan preparing to comment on camera for Seven’s story showed him fussing over his tie -footage that was speciously aired by TT.
TT was quick to offer an on-air apology. But according to Media Watch there was more behind the scenes manouvering.
“Media Watch understands, from excellent sources, that some folks in the Department of Immigration were so upset about the treatment of Sandi Logan, that an extraordinary threat was made to Seven,” said presenter Jonathan Holmes.
“Seven’s behaviour, it was hinted, could jeopardise the Department’s co-operation with the producers of the documentary series Border Security.
“That would have been a powerful threat,” suggested Holmes. “Border Security which returned to Seven’s schedule last night has been a huge ratings puller for 5 years. And it couldn’t be made without the Department of Immigration’s co-operation.”
Both Seven News boss Peter Meakin and Immigration spokesperson Sandi Logan “dodged the question” said Media Watch.
Logan noted the correction was secured “after careful negotiation with the News /Current Affairs team at Channel Seven.”
Holmes added, “It seems extraordinary to me that anyone in a Government Department would even think of using an unrelated reality series, one that’s brought more good publicity to Customs and Immigration than a thousand Today Tonight‘s, as a lever to secure an apology for a perceived sleight to its spokesman.”